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Archive for June, 2009

Krautrock is an easily overlooked genre; most people will only recognize the name Kraftwerk among the artists that get grouped as Krautrock. But it is well worth exploring the surprisingly deep waters. The pulsating rhythms, the electronic experimentation, the often-strange lyrics, the crazy dynamics…

The three big names in Krautrock are NEU!, Faust and Can. NEU!’s members were in an early, pre-“Autobahn” lineup of Kraftwerk before splitting to become NEU!. Drummer Klaus Dinger created what became known as the Motorik beat, the very simple, mechanical-sounding and highly propulsive 4-on-the-floor beat that came to define NEU! and Krautrock.

The story goes that during production of “NEU! 2,” the band blew through their budget before completing more than half of the album. So they virtually invented remixing, filling the second side of the album with sped up, slowed down and otherwise manipulated versions of the tracks they’d already recorded! Here is “Super 16,” which ended up as the theme to the kung fu movie “Master of the Flying Guillotine”:

“Isi” is the wonderfully hypnotic piece of music that opens the album NEU! 75. Dig the motorik beat that drives the song:

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Explore his house on mushrooms.

Explore his house on mushrooms.

Brenda Garcia isn’t the only TLOS’er excited about Joshe Henry’s return to Boston. I’m also a fan, though I did not immediately “get” his unique artistic vision. I can, however, tell you the exact moment I did.

It was a few years ago at the Abbey Lounge. We came expecting a Joshe Henry concert, so we were surprised to see two grown men — Joshe and his bassist, Richard — take the stage in amazing DIY robot costumes (like the photo above, except with masks) and go on to perform a 40 minute set consisting of unemotional synthesizer drone music and wordless Sigur Rós-like falsetto vocals. At the end of their set, they began excitedly throwing individually wrapped gifts into the audience, which, when opened, yielded either a stack of coffee filters or slices of Wonder Bread.

These mysterious travelers, Joshe would later explain, were a band called Willoughby. They had come from a planet where time does not exist and explored the universe looking for a planet that would accept their music — they couldn’t find one, so they settled on Earth (Argentina, specifically).

I was an instant convert. Hopefully, after reading the following list — and downloading his album Gimmie Some More Cocaine (below) — you will be too.

Top 10 Joshe Henry Song Titles

10. Feeding You Bugs – from Joshe Henry vs. Crotche Henry (2007)

9. Disrobing Of An Elf – from The Deal Breaker (2007)

8. I’m Filling Your Hole Now – from Prisoner Of Hate (2006)

7. Puke-Cumber – from Non-Dairy Dreamer (2000)

6. You Can’t Make Love To A Redneck Girl – from The Double Eye Patch (2008)

5. Plant Training School – from Wet Sweatshirt Contest (1999)

4. Explore My House On Mushrooms – from Different Dimensions (2007)

3. It Burns When I Pee – from Right Now I Am Totally Fucked (2001)

2. Gimme Some More Cocaine – from Gimme Some More Cocaine (2006)

1. Why Do Billy Joel Keep Be Calling My House? – from Right Now I Am Totally Fucked (2001)

Who is Joshe Henry?

Download: Gimmie Some More Cocaine

Full discography.

Now you make your own list!

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Halp!

halp-is-hevy

Source

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There’s a wondrous place tucked away in the foothills of Boston where dreams really can come true.  It’s the town of Dedham, MA, to some, a standard strip-mall-ish suburb showcasing capitalist giants such as Costco, BJ’s and other outlets whose products require a dump truck to transport.  To others, like me (who happened to grow up in the adjacent town) the home of hidden gems such as the oldest standing timber frame building in all of North America (!) , a storefront with the name James the Tailor, and the Museum of Bad Art.

Nestled in the sticky-floored basement of the until-recently-sticky-floored (and now very cool) Dedham Community Movie Theatre, MOBA is the place where anyone – anyone – can get their shot at stardom, where wings take dream, where some dude can paint “Reef Garden” and not be arrested.   Indeed, the painting’s description says it all:  “On a silent cue, one pulsating incubator bursts, hurtling an anxious and curiously aged little merman upwards to the unknown world above the surface. ”

"The dancer stares, hypnotizing the viewer. We find ourselves forced to stay -- feel the music or drown."

"The dancer stares, hypnotizing the viewer. We find ourselves forced to stay -- feel the music or drown."

Long a fan of MOBA (yet admittedly sometimes feeling like a shower was needed after a visit), I was delighted to see that the nation – nay, the world – is finally catching on.   Kudos ABC News, for articulating what many of us in the Boston suburbs have been thinking this week: Tehran Shmehran, the real revolution starts in a basement.

ABC News Video: Museum with an Eye for Bad Art

ABC News Video: Museum with an Eye for Bad Art


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Hold on to your lederhosen Science fans, our favorite lo fi trash hero, Joshe Henry, is headed back east. In addition to the announcement of his return Joshe has also just announced the pre-production of his 45th (yes, this is true) album last week, the crassly titled “69 Ways to F**k a Redneck Girl” (I did that ** thing so as not to break my parent’s heart…more). Not that you would have known about it, unless you read his website, which you probably don’t, because it has only been back up for exactly one week yesterday.

The artist in his natural habitat

The artist in his natural habitat

His last album, “The Double Eye Patch”, one of three 2008 releases, dropped to an absence of fanfare and a presence of relief from Henry himself.  Despite this relief Henry visually bristles at the mention of the omission of his work by the creators of the iTunes “Outsider Music” play list. His eye twitches and he lets out a long sigh as he muses that ironically this act of disregard technically makes him even more “outsider” than the artists who’ve made the list. In Apple’s defense out of his 400 song strong (plus) catalog he only manages to have one song on iTunes, the unsteady “Elephant” warbled in Henry’s signature strained vocals. The song was chosen to be on Big Heavy World’s Pop Pie compilation on Burlington VT artists in 1999. It was the compilation, not Henry himself, which wandered onto the digital catalog. In this way Joshe Henry is in a situation he has found himself in quite frequently over his 32 years, he is somewhere purely by accident.

Being undiscovered after more than 18 years of recording otherwise doesn’t generally seem to bother Henry. In listening to his early work you might think he wants to largely remain unknown, the albums are confessional, silly even aggressive and might play out emotionally as if someone were reading aloud from an embarrassing 7th grade diary, reciting back old jokes only funny to a 12 year old boy.

Henry only has about 50 fans on myspace yet he has an unprecedented 10 pages of google search results. At his Austin, Texas home Joshe Henry sits in limbo, no critically acclaimed rock star to latch onto his vast body of work, like Beck to Gary Wilson or Kurt Cobain to Daniel Johnston, he wades in the kiddie pool of quirk dolefully alone.

Joshe began distributing his home-recorded albums much in the fashion of Johnston back in 1994. To those who don’t have the privilege of getting hand burned copies suffice to say they come so quickly one after another, like a quarterly magazine subscription. One has barely time to digest one before another one appears in the mailbox. He records most sitting cross-legged on his living room floor shouting into a 4 track recorder, playing every track on his album and mixing them on the same said 4 track – considering this it’s amazing half of his songs are even intelligible. And with each new year Henry’s albums turn more serious, darker and introspective. And along with the more serious subject matter the instrumentation and song writing also seems to have come thousands of miles since his 1991 self titled album.

Here is a truly self taught musician. Borrowing from Joe Meek ambient experimental and the trashiness of modern pop songwriting, here is a musician who learned not by studying his scales and arpeggios but through repeated experimentation and lots of failure…how does one learn to do what Joshe Henry does? This brutally sincere trash rock? He isn’t a goofy talentless hack, nor is he insincere, technicality aside he truly is a musician’s musician, he lives for his art. You don’t have to like what he creates, few do, but you have to admire his tenacity.

Brenda’s favorite? Check out a more recent track whose title will pull at the heartstrings of anyone who has been in the industry enough to have felt deep feelings of soul crushing rejection, “When I Get Drunk”. Pour out a PBR on the stoop, and keep those angels from crying…

Enjoy a sampletizer of tunes at his newly relaunched website.

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Kates haircut, for the 100,000,000th time

Kate's haircut, for the 100,000,000th time

Did anyone see this coming? I mean, really??

Seriously, isn’t this like announcing that the first day of Summer is here? Everyone knew this was coming — so no surprise there — and it’s already happened anyway.

I don’t even pay attention one iota to this crap, and I feel like I already knew this. Same with the girlfriend. I got home from rehearsal last night, she told me the ‘news,’ and a brief discussion of the newsworthiness unfolded.

Even forgetting about the moldiness of the news, this is seriously a story worth this coverage, eclipsing Iranian election protests and the North Korean nuclear standoff and the Styx visit to the White House?

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Last weekend, Van Hammersley and I went to New York City to eat too much, drink too much, spend too much money, and look at all the beautiful people.  I’m happy to report we succeeded wildly on all counts.  On our first night in town we hung out in the East Village and the Lower East Side.  We endured bad service, overly loud jazz, and wonderful French food at Jules Bistro on St. Mark’s.  I had the mussels and pommes frites – predictable and tasty – and VH had hanger steak with a shallot sauce and asparagus risotto, which was also delicious.

Jules Jazz

We wandered around a bit after dinner and eventually found ourselves in the back room at Piano’s watching Wolff, slack jawed in utter amazement.  Wolff is, as best as I can describe it, an indie electronica/technorock tuba player.  He uses loops of tuba and vocal samples to create rich, layered, innovative songs that maintain a real sense of accessibility and beauty.

Wolff and Tuba

Wolff and Tuba

The lush music, combined with amazing background visuals from the movie Koyaanisqatsi (a precursor to the stunning Baraka, as well as the Planet Earth series), removed us completely from the frenetic Friday night city.  We found ourselves wrapped up in a totally visceral multimedia moment.  I could have watched for hours, but the night was still young at 1:00 a.m.

We moved on to the Back Room, a 1920s speakeasy style bar, complete with comfortable couches, fireplaces, and drinks served in teacups.  We were actually able to get into the exclusive back room of the Back Room due to VH’s little brother’s endless social connections and general awesomeness.  It was extremely exciting:

Rachael Ray's husband was here.

Rachael Ray's husband was here.

VH and I, used to our Boston 2:00 a.m. bedtime, headed back to Ft. Greene shortly afterwards.  We spent much of the rest of the weekend wandering around Williamsburg.  We especially enjoyed The Main Drag, a fantastic music store in which the friendly and helpful employees basically let us fuck around for well over an hour (me on keys trying to understand the intricacies of a rack synth, VH in a private practice room with an assortment of badass pedals and a beautiful guitar), and the (relatively) new riverfront park.

Play time!

Play time!

Information.

Information.

Hipster love.

Hipster love.

We had a beautiful South African dinner on Saturday night at Madiba on DeKalb in Ft. Greene after deciding to get adventurous.  VH had a mutton curry served in a hollowed out loaf of bread, and I had bobotie, a traditional beef meatloaf-like dish with a baked custard topping and sliced almond crust.  Both were served with an assortment of transcendent sauces, including marmalade, raita, fresh salsa, and my favorite, a creamy banana coconut.  It was easily our favorite meal of the trip.  Next time perhaps we’ll try the steak with monkey gland sauce.  Or not.

ny-exterior

The best part of the trip, though, was finally purchasing my dream umbrella at the Mini Mini Market on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg:

Nothing will ever be the same.

Nothing will ever be the same.

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